YDA Board

Youth Development Australia is the auspice of the NYCA. It is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, which has been operating since 2005. The purpose of YDA is to be a ‘platform for change’ for young people in Australia.


Youth Development Australia board members include: Emily Smith, Alex Young, Evrim Sen, Prof. David Mackenzie, Assoc. Prof Tim Corney, Dr. May Lam, Mr. Keith Waters (EO), and Dr. Michael Coffey.

Emily Smith YDA Board

Emily Smith


Emily Smith is a lawyer with experience working at both a young people’s legal rights centre and in a large commercial law firm. Emily is passionate about using legal tools to afford better protections to those that need it, and using her experience to advocate for those who struggle to do so themselves. Emily is interested in engaging in policy work within the legal system to ensure that the opportunities available to young people are not limited by arbitrary attributes like race, gender, socio-economic status or sexuality. Emily hopes to work towards empowering young people through education to avoid encounters with the justice system, and to achieve a more politically engaged Australia.

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Alex Young


Alex Young is the Head of Innovation at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.  He works with business units to apply techniques from strategy, customer experience and Agile to accelerate their ability to achieve organisational strategic goals. Prior to Lifeblood, Alex held roles across Strategy and Innovation, Digital, and Marketing at Medibank, initiating digital health innovations and delivering on member experiences.

Alex Young has been active in the digital space for the past 20 years designing and launching digital products in start-ups and corporates throughout Asia-Pacific including Nokia, Telstra and StarHub. His passion to solve problems in healthcare as well as inspire youth leadership fuels his work.  Through the mentoring of aspiring leaders and start-up founders, he empowers others with innovation techniques to channel purposeful outcomes.


Evrim Sen


Evrim Sen is a creative working across the youth non-profit and social enterprise sector. Community arts and media is the core of her interest and experience. All her work has evolved from her drive to support young people, along with emerging artists, to have their voices heard, have a platform to grow and tell their stories. Evrim is currently SYN Media’s General Manager, a youth community broadcaster and non-profit which trains and empowers young people to be media makers. She has a focus on buisness and strategic organisational development, which she utilised whilst working with the Community Media Training’s Organisation’s as the course developer and coordinator of ‘Think Big’, their national social enterprise training program. Along side her work with the community arts sector, she has designed and produced accessible media training programs for young people in conjunction with numerous partners, including Regional Arts Victoria, The Victorian Office for Youth, The Wheeler Centre, Arts Access Victoria, RMIT Creative and numerous schools and community groups.

Prof. David Mackenzie of the Youth Development Australia Board

Professor David Mackenzie


David Mackenzie is an Associate Professor at the University of South Australia and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Swinburne University. David has a strong record of research and development on youth issues and youth policy and is internationally recognised for his work on homelessness and youth. He is the author and co-author of a number of significant reports on Youth Homelessness. David was the original founder of Youth Development Australia and he is the current Chair of the YDA Board. Over the past 10 years, David has served on a number of government advisory committees and taskforces – the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Homelessness, the National SAAP Data and Research Advisory Committee, the National SAAP Information Services Committee, the JPET Needs Committee and the Victorian Integrated Data Project Committee. David was one of the NYC Commissioners in 2007/08. David is one of Australia’s leading researchers on homelessness and disadvantage.

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Dr May Lam


Dr May Lam holds a Strategic Projects position with Jesuit Social Services. She has worked for the past 35 years in the youth sector as well as the education, employment and community sectors on policy, research and strategy for employment and social inclusion programs. This included 14 years at the peak body Jobs Australia, where she was Policy Manager and Deputy CEO. Other roles were at the National Employment Services Association, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, and Social Traders and in the UK, Ingeus and the Department of Work and Pensions. These roles have typically focused on research with a practical outcome for policy, program design, procurement and social impact measurement. May served as Chair at Writers Victoria from 2013-2016.

Executive Officer for the NYC Keith Waters

Mr Keith Waters (EO)

Executive Officer

Keith Waters has worked in the not for profit sector for over 30 years. He has held Executive positions with Anglicare in NSW and the ACT as well as the Salvation Army in Melbourne, Victoria. He has experience across a wide range of areas including youth, drug and alcohol, housing and homelessness, crisis services, OoHC and child protection, domestic violence, prisons and courts, disability services, child care, aged care, primary health care and juvenile justice


In addition to being a leading NGO Executive, he has pioneered numerous innovative programs for disadvantaged young people over the past 20 years and has been the author and co-author of a number of landmark reports which have impacted youth policy. He is currently the Executive Officer of both YDA and the National Youth Commission into Youth Employment and Transitions. Keith has post graduate qualifications in Innovation, Service Management and Business Administration.

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Dr Michael Coffey


Michael Coffey is the Senior Manager Strategic Directions and Planning at Catholic Care (Diocese of Broken Bay). Prior to taking up this position he was the Chief Executive Officer at YFoundations for 15 years. He began work with YFoundations in 1988, and over 30 years has positioned himself as a leading national voice on the issue of youth homelessness. Michael holds a doctorate from the University of Technology, Sydney. Under Michael’s leadership, YFoundations developed into a great force promoting discussion and action on the issue of youth homelessness within New South Wales and Australia.